Let us suppose you are considering purchasing a puppy. The first steps are so important, ask yourself and do please be honest would the pup choose you as its owner! I have experienced lots of families new to dog ownership and and here are a few considerations to help.
- Do you have the time to devote to your new family member? Families lead busy lives, can you cope with another demand on your time? Be under no illusion, children often keen to have a new pup get bored quickly. The day to day exercise and feeding will become your responsibility. The dog could be with you long after your children have grown up and moved on. 10 to 15 years.
- Do you have a garden and is it safely fenced
- Will you train your dogs to play a responsible role in modern society
- Have you considered all of the costs involved, not only the purchase but also accessories (lead collar, bed) also vets bills, vaccinations, micro-chipping, insurance
- Is everyone out at work or at school, if so then please re-consider, summer evenings are fine for exercise but are you prepared to exercise in the rain and darkness of winter
- Very few family pets receive the exercise they need which can lead to all sorts of destructive behaviour and a very frustrated pet
One thing which I believe is vital is to consider the breed of dog very carefully, even cross breeds will have distinct breed traits assuming you can be sure of parentage
Let me explain, dogs fall into various categories all bred over many generations by man to fulfill a job/role in life an obvious example being the Border Collie. This type of dog has been bred with traits and instincts to herd sheep, they are intelligent and have high energy levels. In my experience a collie pup purchased from a farm whose parents have worked sheep will not necessarily make a good family pet. The farmers who breed these litters have very different criteria. They emphasise working ability which can make for very intense and stressed pets. The same issues sometimes materialise with “working” cockers and springer spaniels. people mate without much consideration for the pups that will inevitably not work and get placed in pet homes.
Consider carefully your lifestyle and family commitments, it is so important to acknowledge that dogs vary some are intelligent, biddable, eager to learn, with high energy needs.
Basic training can start in your home and garden as soon as your pup arrives home. It should be without distraction from any other family pet or person. Taught through rewards and motivation in a positive way will help you to gain trust and respect as the pack leader.
One of the first things we teach puppies is No. Please do not think discipline is a bad thing, dogs need rules and boundaries. If a rule or boundary is broken then there must be a consequence. This does not mean hitting your dog. A sharp reprimand with the voice and use of body language are equally as effective. You must be patient and consistent. It is very easy to fall into the trap of allowing your cute fluffy puppy up on the furniture for a cuddle then when it grows you change your mind confusing your dog. Start the way you mean to carry on.
While your puppy is learning to live with you its character is continually developing. It is very important to socialise your new puppy with as many different circumstances as possible. Its first few car journeys are probably to its new home with strangers or to the vets for vaccinations neither of these are positive experiences so take it out in the car to the park or for a walk as soon as you are able (after vaccinations).
If you live rurally take him or her to the nearest village to say hello, puppies always attract attention. This will introduce him to strangers, push chairs, traffic and other dogs.
It really is so important, particularly in this anti dog climate we now live in to have the canine member of you family able to walk and be confident it will know how to behave.
Please do not wait until your cute puppy has grown into some hormone fueled “Kevin” at 10 to 18 mths of age. Yes dogs do go through adolescence. They do start to push the boundaries but with correct and consistent training they will come out the other-side.
Find good training classes with a qualified teacher enroll as soon as you get your puppy home. A place may not be available immediately. Your local vet is a good source of information and they may be able to recommend a trainer to you.